Once David had become king and the civil war between him and Saul had finally ended, he remembered that he had made a covenant of friendship with Jonathan and his family (1 Samuel 20:14-15). So David searched for members of Jonathan’s family to bless and found Mephibosheth (2 Samuel 4:4).
Mephibosheth had a life of much hardship and suffering. He was an orphan – both his father and his grandfather had died. Not only that, but he had every reason to believe that he was the king’s enemy, and would be the next one killed. The usual practice at that time was that the new heir to the throne would take the entire family of the displaced king and have them put to death, to eliminate the possibility of any future opposition. Not only that, but we read that as he was fleeing as a young child, being carried by his nurse, she dropped him and he was crippled for life as a result of this accident. The bones never mended correctly so that he would never walk again. He was forever dependent upon others to transport him from place to place.
So Mephibosheth was a fugitive, living in fear, constantly harboring the dread that one day he would be found and put to death. When he finally was summoned by the king he must have had a good idea that it would not end up well for him.
In that moment I wonder what thoughts might have been going through his head. He must have been completely overwhelmed by fear. It is likely that the time it took to travel to the king’s palace was probably used for nothing less than reflecting on all the unfortunate events he had endured over the course of his miserable life.
He must have thought, “Why me?”
But when he finally arrived and appeared before the king, David said to him, “I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table.” He expected the king’s wrath, but was surprised by grace. As amazing as this is, for me, the best part of the story is his response. “What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?”
In other words – “Why me?”
Mephibosheth doesn’t respond with an attitude of entitlement. He doesn’t say, “Finally I’m getting what I’m owed.” Instead, he responds with a spirit of humility by calling himself a dead dog.
If you feel entitled you will be surprised by any suffering you endure, but if you are humble you will be far more surprised by God’s grace.
David’s kindness to Mephibosheth serves to illustrate the kindness and love of God towards fallen humanity, which he is under no obligation to save. We were convicted of rebellion against God, and, like Saul’s house, under a sentence of rejection from him. We were not only brought low and impoverished, but made lame and impotent by the fall. Like David, God comes to seek and to save those who have ears to hear and hearts that are ready to receive.
3 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.
1 John 3:1 ESV